Friends Are Our Chosen Family

By Andria Varghase


Raised in the Ozarks, my grandparents raised babies on spoon-feeding coffee with fresh cows milk.  As a morning person, my dad would take me along to the “coffee drinking groups” early on.  Ozark had a different group to go to every day:  VFW, Senior Center, McDonald’s, and all the local cafes always had a long table for the old guys to have their coffee. 


Needless to say, I was a “Daddy’s Girl” and “Handy Andi” was always ready to work at the land with a machete or built a project in my dad’s workshop, his thermos always filled with coffee.  

   I have always been hard-headed, independent and sarcastic.  Even after being diagnosed with epilepsy at age 12, with medication, I still was a “Rebel with a plan”; I was always full of questions and was focused on becoming a teacher.  After graduating University with my Bachelor’s, I started teaching Family and Consumer Science (formerly Home Ec).  I was never bored with 9 courses, topics ranging from Child Development, Foods and Nutrition, Housing and Interior Design, Clothing and Sewing, Personal Finance and Independent Living.  After 10 years of teaching, and having a daughter, I finished the school year healing from a broken ankle on 2 sides.  Physical therapy and another surgery filled the years after.  Still having balance problems walking, I contacted my doctors until they diagnosed me with Ataxia (degenerative cerebellum/coordination issues).  

   As an independent woman, it is hard to ask for help with everyday things; I’m still able to take care of myself and my daughter although I have bad days or wait until I’m not as shaky to shower or pour a cup of coffee.  She is just as hard-headed, independent and sarcastic a girl as I was and is quick to volunteer with making meals, putting away laundry or dishes when I’m feeling too weak.  She is still perfecting her coffee-making skills for us to enjoy and one day, she may truly turn into her mother and drink her dark roast coffee black, without creamer.

   As wonderful of a support system I have around me, during the last few years I’ve had these new challenges as well.  Being able to stay at home, waiting on the school bus, a neighbor told me about a great coffee company and even gave me a couple of sample bags of Iron Bean.  I’ve been hooked ever since, trying all the dark roasts and loving the sarcastic nature of the Nation family as only true coffee drinkers can.  I will not go gentle into that night, but I shall rage against the dying of the light; I am still strong and independent, sometimes using my walker or in bed on bad days.  I can’t always post a picture with a mug of coffee, but my spirits are always lifted by my coffee friends and I will still RAGE with you all.

Much love,


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